Heading outdoors this weekend? Things are getting cold and wet quickly in Utah


Thomas Geboy, ABC4


(ABC4) – The switch has been flipped weather-wise in Utah.

According to several key indicators, weather advisories, and forecasts from ABC4’s Pinpoint Weather team, Utah residents will see a pronounced difference from the weather enjoyed last weekend to the weather expected for this one.

To borrow an expression, winter is coming.

Fall is here now.

Summer is long gone.

“Compare this weekend last weekend, we saw temperatures in the 70s with beautiful autumn sunshine, now you can’t drive through the Wasatch,” ABC4 TV Chief Meteorologist Alana Brophy states. “Our highest peaks are getting snow and the snow level continues to drop. We were 80 degrees on Monday this weekend we’re going to be in the 50s with snow potential above 7,500 feet.”

Images of snow-crested mountains filled social media in the state on Friday, marking the occasion to put the shorts and flip flops away and break out the hoodies and even winter coats from storage.

Temperatures in Salt Lake City are expected to climb no higher than the mid-50s over the weekend with a high likelihood of rain, and in some areas, snow, on Saturday.

As Brophy states, the conditions have already made an impact on how some Utahns may want to enjoy the autumn colors in the canyons. Utah Department of Transportation officials have closed Guardsman Pass Road along Highway 224 on the way to Park City in anticipation of adverse weather.

“People need to be extremely careful,” Brophy advises. “This is the time where you want to make sure that you’re updating everything in your car, you’ve got your emergency pack, you’ve got your blankets because winter weather conditions will pop up as these colder storms drop in from the Pacific Northwest.”

The poor weather front moving in is also coinciding with the start of the elk hunting season in Utah. Expecting a number of excited hunters setting out to collect their tag, officials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are directing elk-seekers to be aware of the weather conditions, particularly in the Uinta Mountains, before deciding to head out.

“Hunters should also be prepared for any weather and should always have a first-aid kit and plenty of water with them. The weather in Utah’s mountains can change very quickly and go from sunny to snowing in a matter of minutes, so hunters need to be prepared with adequate clothing and supplies,” a guide on the DWR’s website reads.

Getting trapped in the outdoors, with the possibility of further road closures, and the near-certainty of rapidly dropping temperatures would be a disastrous situation for an unprepared or uninformed outdoorsman this weekend.

“I would say this is the time that everyone needs to brush up on their skills, make sure that everything’s ready to go because you will likely be caught in these situations,” Brophy, an outdoors enthusiast in her own right, recommends.

Those who need to drive on the freeways and road systems this weekend should take extra precautions and be aware of any possible road closures. Following UDOT on Twitter might not be a bad idea. ABC4.com will also be monitoring any situations that may arise due to this weekend’s storms as well.

“Rain is great, but we haven’t had a ton of it,” Brophy reminds residents, alluding to this summer’s record-breaking drought. “A lot of people forget that we’re going to hit the roads and we’re going to see pooling, heavy rain, and flooding. We’ve kind of got everything ‘weather buffet’ when it comes to hazards.”

The dramatic shift from sunny skies last weekend to the gray skies to be expected over this weekend may the perfect embodiment of the tired expression every Utahn knows by heart: Welcome to Utah, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.

Brophy may find the phrase fitting thanks to her current forecast.

“That’s how quickly it changes in Utah,” she says. “And as fast as it changes we have to stay ahead of it so we can change with it.”

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